Grateful Dead Photography

The Grateful Dead

Like many bands that formed in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, the Jerry Garcia-led Grateful Dead’s initial goals were to make eclectic music instilled with messages of peace and love. But more than five decades later, they are credited with inventing the “jam band” genre and being one of the biggest concert attractions of all time.

Though never a commercial success, the Dead built a grassroots following throughout the psychedelic movement by unconventionally combining rock, country, bluegrass, blues, folk, and improvisational jazz. Some of their signature songs include “Sugar Magnolia,” “Friend of the Devil,” and “Truckin’,” though the group always kept their diehard fans—“Deadheads”—guessing with an ever-changing set list.

The Dead disbanded with the Garcia’s passing in 1995, but twenty years later, the “core four”—Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann Jr., and Mickey Hart—reunited to “Fare Thee Well” at Chicago’s Soldier Field (the site of their late leader’s last performance). Guitarist John Mayer also joined the group for a number of “Dead & Company” tours in the 2010s.

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